Confession time: I have a really hard time getting started. There’s just something about those awkward first steps that makes me delay projects as long as I possibly can. For example, last month I finally fixed the check engine light in my car so that I could get it inspected. It was actually pretty excited since the light had been on since October.
Of 2008. I wish I was kidding.
It’s not that I’m irresponsible, that I don’t value my safety or even that I didn’t know I was potentially creating a bigger problem – it’s that taking the first step and committing to something is scary. And it’s especially scary if you don’t know where to start. Because the not knowing makes you feel dumb. And no one likes to feel dumb.
If you’re a business owner feeling like everyone around you is already fully immersed in social media and ‘getting it’, it’s intimidating to take those first steps or even ask for help. How do you hire a social media company when you’re not versed in it? What are you supposed to look for? What do you ask? How do you not embarrass yourself so they reject you before even knowing you? OMG, can’t we just go back to direct mail?
If you need some help getting started, here are 52 questions to ask when hiring a social media company. This isn’t meant to be a full list, just something to get the conversation started. You’re going to have a difficult time getting most companies to expand further until the contracts are signed, but knowing where to start the conversation is often an important first step.
Brand Monitoring Questions
- What tool(s) do you use to monitor brand mentions?
- Do you monitor sentiment and if so, how?
- How will you report on brand mentions? Can you provide a sample report?
- How often will we receive a report or will we have access to the reports?
- How do you assess which brand mentions require an immediate response and which do not?
- How soon will we be notified of brand mentions that need a response and how will we be notified?
- What is your approach to responding to mentions, positive or negative?
- If you respond, who do you leave a comment as and how do you determine what to say?
- If you don’t respond, will you provide us with a template for how to effectively respond to brand mentions?
- Do you just monitor existing mentions or will you help us to build new ones?
Reputation Management Questions
- What services do you provide as part of an online reputation management campaign?
- What is your typical process for handling online reputation management issues?
- Can you completely get rid of the negative result(s)?
- What responsibilities will your team handle and what will you need us to manage in-house?
- Do you write content/press releases/guest posts for us or will we have to hire someone else to do that?
- What information/access will you need from us before you get started?
- How much information do you need regarding the cause of the ORM issue?
- How will you determine if reputation management is successful?
- How much time could it take to displace negative search results?
- Can you make a 3-month projection of how the search results will look for target phrases?
Social Media Measurement Questions
- What social media marketing channels do you have the most expertise in?
- Will you work with us to create a social plan/strategy or do you just create the initial presence?
- What tools do you use to measure social media metrics? Do you have your own tools or do you use existing ones?
- Can you pull archived data with those tools to establish a baseline or are we starting from present day?
- How should we define success/conversions?
- Can we use our analytics with your tools when reporting on conversions or will we have to switch to something else?
- How do you the measure the effectiveness of each social media channel?
- How should we define ROI? Do you measure the cost per lead/ cost per acquisition?
- What methods will you use to grow the accounts and measure success?
- Do you have 3-month projection of what we can expect from this investment?
- How long will it take to see results?
- Will you help us build satellite communities within social media or focus strictly on our Web site?
- How will you help us determine our community influencers? If not, can we keep the list that you’ve created?
- Will you reach out to the influencers on our behalf or will we? If it’s on you, how transparent will you be about our relationship with us? How do you keep it authentic?
- Will you give us a strategy for how to connect with influencers in a way that doesn’t appear spammy? Small talk makes us nervous, but we want people to know we’re real.
- What methods will you use to grow our audience? Will they get us in trouble or turn people off?
- How do you measure community ROI? We hear follower numbers are so 2008, but what else is there?
- What about the new FTC guidelines for sponsored advertising? How do we know when or what to disclose?
- How can integrate our online community with our offline community and into our traditional marketing efforts?
- Will you give us any guidelines for how to talk to people and how to be a good social media citizen so we don’t look foolish?
- Will you teach us how to sustain what you’ve started? We will be taught how to use the tools, identify people, and essentially do what you did?
The Right Fit Questions ( to ask yourself)
- Do their core values match my own?
- Are my customers on social media? Do I even need these services?
- If I’m the one who will be tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, am I social enough for this?
- Am I being offer a social media presence or an outlined strategy?
- Do they seem excited to work with me? Am I excited to work with them?
- Do they understand our point of difference?
- How customized does their strategy feel?
- Do they take time to answer our questions and explain rationale or do they seem fearful of going into specifics of what they’re doing?
- What does this company’s reputation appear to be in the community? Are they practicing what they preach and tracking/responding to their own mentions?
- Do I trust the people behind this company? Do they seem to care about my brand?
- How will the strategy they outline complement your larger objectives?
See, conversations aren’t so scary when you have a place to start, right?